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It is believed that this capacity to mentalize is compromised in people with personality disorders.
Fonagy and Bateman argue that people with Borderline Personality Disorder are limited in their capacity to mentalize.
Thus, the limited ability to mentalize would account for several difficulties experienced by people with Borderline Personality Disorder including: 1) impulsivity, 2) a sense of identity that is fragmented and inconsistent, and 3) poor regulation of intense emotions.
Fonagy and Bateman have developed Mentalization-Based Therapy as a means of helping people with Borderline Personality Disorder to develop their capacity for mentalization.
When early caregivers are unable to reflect on children's state of mind, children do not receive the instruction they require, via caregiver modeling, to develop this important capacity.
In other words, when this feedback to children is either completely missing or inaccurate, children are unable to fully develop the capacity to mentalize.
Defined in this way, mentalization becomes a precondition of social skill, self-soothing, empathy, and other facets of emotional intelligence and social-emotional maturity.Recently, attachment theory has been expanded and further developed by Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman.These researchers coined the term "mentalization." Mentalization refers to the ability to reflect upon, and to understand one's state of mind; to have insight into what one is feeling, and why.Similarly, if I have an understanding of what I want to do, and why I want to do it (i.e., my motivation), I will be better able to slow the progression of an impulsive urge to do something that is contrary to my ultimate goal.In addition, having this understanding of my feelings and motivations provides the basis for a more complete and internally consistent sense of self.